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Wisconsin Republicans 'stand ready' to kill mask requirementSubmitted: 07/31/2020
Wisconsin Republicans 'stand ready' to kill mask requirement
Story By Scott Bauer, Associated Press

Photos By Pex

MADISON - Wisconsin Senate Republicans "stand ready" to strike down the statewide mask mandate that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers announced on Thursday, the GOP Senate leader said Friday.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald stopped short of promising that the Senate would vote to kill the order, which is slated to take effect on Saturday. Fitzgerald, a candidate for Congress who faces a GOP primary on Aug. 11, also did not indicate when the Senate might convene.

"Republicans in the state Senate stand ready to convene the body to end the governor's order," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "The governor has caved to the pressure of liberal groups on this. How can we trust that the he won't cave again and stop schools that choose in-person instruction this fall? There are bigger issues at play here, and my caucus members stand ready to fight back."

State law gives the Legislature authority to revoke a governor's emergency order. But the Assembly, controlled by Republicans, would also have to vote to strike down the order. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Thursday noted that he expects the order to face a legal challenge, but didn't raise the possibility of the Legislature taking action. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

The GOP-controlled Legislature has not met since mid-April, despite calls from Evers and Democrats to convene to take up issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, including ensuring that the Wisconsin National Guard can continue its work across the state assisting in testing for COVID-19.

A message left with Fitzgerald's office for further comment was not immediately returned. Evers' spokeswoman Britt Cudaback referred to comments he made on Thursday calling it "risky business" for the Legislature to revoke a mask mandate that polls show has broad public support.

Evers declared a public health emergency on Thursday and issued a separate order requiring masks to be worn, with some exceptions, by everyone age 5 and up while inside or in enclosed places. The order does not apply to people in their private homes. It was slated to run until Sept. 28, with violators facing a $200 fine.

As of Friday, more than a dozen county sheriffs across Wisconsin said they would not enforce the order, with many noting they didn't have the resources to deal with it or that it was a public health issue instead of a law enforcement matter.

More than 30 states, with both Republican and Democratic governors, have mask mandates in effect. Public health officials around the world have emphasized that wearing a mask is one of the best ways to slow the spread of the highly contagious virus.

Wisconsin has had nearly 53,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 934 deaths from the disease since the pandemic started. That death count is the 28th-highest in the country and the 35th highest per capita, at nearly 16 deaths per 100,000 people. Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has gone up by 70, an increase of nearly 9%.


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 IN OTHER NEWS

MILWAUKEE -  Milwaukee's former police chief, who was demoted to captain in part for using tear gas against protesters demonstrating over George Floyd's death, has chosen to retire instead of staying with the department. 

The city's Fire and Police Commission voted unanimously last week to demote Chief Alfonso Morales.

 Commissioners criticized how Morales handled multiple incidents involving Black people, including the arrest of Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown. 

Speaking Wednesday on WTMJ-AM, Morales said he's retiring because if he returned as a captain it would be at a reduced salary and would negatively impact his pension payments. 

Morales also defended his record as chief. 

His attorney says he and Morales are exploring a range of legal action, including filing a claim for damages.

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MADISON - The University of Wisconsin-Madison has received less than 1% of the money that Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group pledged to it two years ago amid the electronics giant's expansion plans in Wisconsin.

In August 2018, Foxconn committed $100 million to the university to help fund an engineering building and for company-related research. It gave the school $700,000 in the first year of a 5-year agreement and records show the school has received no additional money over the past year.

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MILWAUKEE - A Wisconsin man has pleaded guilty to vandalizing a synagogue last year as part of a neo-Nazi plot, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Yousef Barasneh, 22, of Oak Creek, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal civil rights charge, U.S. Attorney Matthew Krueger of the Eastern District of Wisconsin said.

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MINOCQUA -

 The walleye population in Minocqua's Chain of Lakes has been struggling. The Wisconsin DNR has placed strict policies on walleye fishing in the area which has put a strain on anglers. 

Because of that, fishing guides in Minocqua have had to suggest new alternatives to tourists in order to protect the walleye population.

"Numbers just skyrocketing," said Kurt's Island Sport Shop's Alec Steinberger on the surge of new fishermen.

But, with the walleye population struggling to reproduce naturally, fishing guides have had to direct new fishermen to different species.

"I recommend you go out and catch crappies and panfish and bass and have a good time," Steinberger said.

While the Wisconsin DNR has placed a strict "catch and release" restriction on walleye in Minocqua, it doesn't mean that anglers can't bring in those fish from other lakes.

"All the rest of the lakes don't have that restriction. So, you can still go out and fish and catch walleyes on a lot of lakes and come back with your limits everyday," said Dewey Catchem and How Owner, Jeff Bolander.

He knows better than anyone else that this summer has been especially busy for fishing.

"You've got the normal people that fish who are fishing more often," Bolander said, "You've got the people that don't normally fish are taking it up and finding out either they like it or they don't."

And Steinberger realizes these new anglers can cause a strain on an already low population.

"When you've got people coming up and taking walleyes out of the chain that aren't being naturally reproduced, you're actually taking out more fish than can be reproduced into the lake," he said.

The DNR is hoping that by next summer the walleye population in Minocqua can return to normal levels and fisherman can resume catching the fish without the strict policy.



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KINGSTON, MO - Attorneys for a Missouri man accused of killing two brothers from Wisconsin are seeking to have two charges of abandoning a corpse dismissed in the case.

Garland Nelson, of Braymer, is facing the death penalty in the deaths of 24-year-old Justin Diemel and 35-year-old Nicholas Diemel, of Shawano County, Wisconsin. They disappeared after visiting Nelson's farm in July 2019 and their burned remains were later found in Missouri and Nebraska.

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KENOSHA - A Kenosha police officer wounded in a shootout last week while investigating a vehicle break-in has been released from a hospital, Wisconsin Department of Justice officials said Friday.

A release by the department's Division of Criminal Investigation identified the officer as Justin Pruett, who has been with the Kenosha police force for two years. He suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen, the Kenosha News reported.

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Hodag Lanes Closing Submitted: 08/14/2020

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RHINELANDER - After over 50 years of staying open, Hodag Lanes in Rhinelander has officially closed its doors.

"I mean COVID has hit the bowling business really, really hard no matter where your bowling center is," said Sharon Cline, bowling manager at Hodag Lanes.

And with the construction on Stevens Street, the bowling alley was in a tough situation.

"The construction was also a big play for us because with all the construction out here it was tough for anybody to get through," Cline said.

A lot of memories were created in the bowling alley for various citizens in the city.

"I probably started bowling in the early '80s on the Wednesday night women's league," said Sherri Schilleman, Rhinelander resident. "We had the 9 o'clock slot I believe back then."

For her and many families in Rhinelander, bowling was very popular.

"Bowling is actually a big sport in Rhinelander," said Schilleman. "And I think in the last couple of years bowling was actually starting to make another comeback. So it's sad because people are gonna have to find something else to do."

But Cline is hoping that this won't be the end for Hodag Lanes.

"It is costly to have a bowling center but we're just hoping again that we can get up and running again," said Cline. 

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